Hackitt Report: an update for members from the Chief Executive.

Published: 15/06/2018

Martin Powell updates Institution members on the Institution's response to the Hackitt Report.

•    Institution will be represented on six of eleven industry working groups studying implications of Report’s recommendations

•    President welcomes Report’s evidence-based approach to change 

Dame Judith’s final report was published on May 17th, less than a year after the Grenfell Tower fire. This is a remarkable achievement given the complexity of the subject and the sensitivities that surrounded the fatalities of over seventy residents.

The Hackitt Report sets out a vision for a cultural change in the way that certain buildings are designed, constructed, regulated and maintained. It recommends a model of risk ownership with clear responsibilities for the client, designer, contractor and owner to demonstrate the delivery and maintenance of safe buildings, overseen and held to account by a new Joint Competence Authority.

The report includes a detailed set of recommendations including:

•    A less prescriptive, outcomes-based approach to the regulatory framework to be overseen by a new regulator that can drive the right behaviours;
•    Clearer roles and responsibilities throughout the design and construction process and during occupation, to ensure real accountability for building safety;
•    Residents to be consulted and involved in decisions affecting the safety of their home and listened to if they have concerns;
•    A more rigorous and transparent product testing regime and a more responsible marketing regime;
•    Industry to lead on strengthening competence of all those involved in building work and to establish an oversight body.

The Institution (independently and via “Structural-Safety”) made consistent representation to the Review team throughout the consultation on the topics of:

•    Structural Design Approval
•    Professional Competence
•    Continuing Professional Development
•    Incident Reporting, analysis and collation of data

The Institution’s contribution and arguments appear to have been well received and influential in helping to shape the thinking of the Review team. 

Several parts of the Report acknowledge that the structural engineering profession sets a higher competency threshold than many disciplines and that this Institution upholds strong values in its mission for greater public safety and confidence. This though, is no time to rest on any laurels. The challenge laid down by Dame Judith is for the entire sector to collaborate and work through the implications of over 50 recommendations - and to do so within one year. 

Responding effectively will require a huge ongoing commitment and to this end the industry is committed to a period of detailed work under the auspices of 11 working groups, drawing representation from a range of interested parties, including the Institution of Structural Engineers. 

The Institution requested to join and has been accepted onto six of these groups, looking at the issue of competency of process and people. In particular:

•    Engineering competencies and frameworks
•    Fire engineering
•    Building Control and Standards
•    Building Designers
•    Site Supervision
•    Procurement 

I would like to thank all those members with relevant expertise who will represent the Institution on these work streams, which will commence within the next couple of weeks. As more becomes known of the specific work to be undertaken, the Institution will provide further updates and information for members, with the Trustee Board and Engineering Leadership Group monitoring developments closely.

The Institution Board has not met since publication of the report (it will next meet in mid-July), but it is clear - subject to understanding and debating the detailed implications of the recommendations - that there is widespread support for the rigour of the work undertaken by Dame Judith and the Review Team.

2018 President, Faith Wainwright, concluded:

“There is no question that change in the regulatory regime is needed, and we welcome these recommendations for a new framework. 

Through the wide consultation, which the Institution has contributed to, and drawing on the experience of change achieved in other industries, the Hackitt review lays down a thorough, evidence-based approach to change.
“If the principles proposed by the review are kept at the centre of the process of change ahead, which will take time and involve both legislation and leadership from industry, including culture change, we do anticipate benefits for all in the industry, and most importantly, those using and inhabiting the buildings we help to create”.


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